North American Adult Literacy Programs and Latin American Immigrants: How Critical Pedagogy Can Help Nonprofit Literacy Programming in the United States




Straubhaar, Rolf

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Taylor & Francis


As nonprofit adult literacy programs are often the only options for low-income Latin American immigrants in North America, problems accompanying these programs affect the ability of immigrants to benefit from them. North American nonprofit adult literacy programs often struggle due to the difficulties inherent in using volunteer instructors (often from different cultural backgrounds than participants) who use curricula that often do not reflect students’ communities of origin. Hence, the outcomes of these programs can be problematic. One potential way to ameliorate these difficulties is found in the critical framework of Paulo Freire (1985, 1993), wherein curricula are student-generated. The primary argument in this paper is that trained community instructors (or Freirean-trained outsiders)—using Freire’s (1985, 1993) model of instruction and curriculum development, working under a demand for true accountability for results from organizational administrators—could improve existent benign North American adult literacy programs into more empowering social resources for Latin American immigrant communities in the United States. The possibilities for such improvement are explored through analysis of positive and negative case studies within the larger literature on adult literacy.



Freire, Paulo, curriculum, inequalities in education, critical pedagogy, adult literacy


Straubhaar, R. (2013). North American adult literacy programs and Latin American immigrants: how critical pedagogy can help nonprofit literacy programming in the United States. Critical Studies in Education, 54(2), pp. 190-202.


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